Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern
Cuts in Medicaid payments are beginning to place a strain on medical doctors in Michigan. Within the last month, Governor Granholm announced a 4% cut in payments across the board for hospitals, dentists, and doctors who treat Medicaid patients. The last reduction in Medicaid payments was in 2005 when the rates were also cut by 4%.
This leaves the doctors receiving $21 for a new patient visit from Medicaid reimbursements and $46 from Blue Cross Blue Shield for the same treatment. Despite the cuts in benefits, there is a surge of new Medicaid patients. Currently, there are 1.6 million insured through Medicaid – with an average of 15,000 individuals joining every month. Medicaid now accounts for 1/4 of the states general fund.
The result of these cuts in benefits may burden society in more ways than one. Roughly 80% of doctors accepted Medicaid patients in 2006 – In recent times, only 71% accept Medicaid patients. The decreased acceptance of Medicaid patients and the increased enrollment in Medicaid is resulting in increased uses of the emergency room. These emergency room visits are demanding more of the doctors time, resulting in a reduction in quality of service being delivered to all other patients.
The real problem is the flawed assumption that the government can somehow provide anything for free. As Frédéric Bastiat said back in 1848: “The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” – The State